The Indiana Pacers are flying high today as they try not to go stir crazy during a 17-hour flight to Taipei, Taiwan via Anchorage, Alaska. At least they won't be in coach.
Speaking of coach, Jim O'Brien has a tricky task ahead of him this week. While the trip to Asia is a great chance for a young team with several new faces to grow together on and off the court, the Pacers are still a young team with several new faces that needs as much work as they can get. Along with practicing twice and playing two games, the Pacers will make some appearances, host clinics and play the role of tourists.
JOB has to strike the delicate balance of keeping the team's focus on their primary objective (improving as a basketball team), while making sure the team takes advantage of the Asian experience. The off-court events are important as the team is promoting the Pacers and NBA and those promotional events along with the tourist side trips can create a stronger group which ultimately feeds the primary objective of improving as a basketball team.
Can't pin all of the responsibility on JOB, though. While he can set the tone and expectations, every player on the roster has to realize that this isn't a PTO vacation and that there is a purpose for the trip. It's a business trip. The players just happen to have very cool and fun jobs and this can be a very cool and fun business trip. But make no mistake, it's business. One or two guys losing focus of that fact can destroy all of the trip's positive impact. Fortunately, with this current group of Pacers that shouldn't be a problem.
After the jump, a few stories of interest including more on the Asian trip and more previews of the Pacers' upcoming season.
Pacers embark on historic "trip of a lifetime"
Bruno previews the Pacers trip to China and Taiwan. Love how Luther Head just keeps his eyes on the prize.
Rush knows of China's love for basketball
Jeff Rabjohns checks in with the Pacers after Sunday's practice and finds Brandon Rush excited to return to China where he participated in a Basketball Without Borders even this past summer.
Nuggets head overseas for challenging addition to preseason - The Denver Post
Benjamin Hochman checks in with the Nuggets as they prepare to join the Pacers for the Asian hoops tour.
The Baseline Sees All: Indiana Pacers
B Shoals offers up a fair preview of the Pacers' upcoming season.
NBA Countdown: No. 25 Indiana Pacers
Larry Lage ranks the Pacers 25th for The Baseline figuring with an unreliable supporting cast, Danny Granger can only win so many games by himself.
PBN | Trying to keep pace
Brian Dulik takes a look a the Pacers and finds enough questions to have quite a gap between is best case and worst case scenarios.